The thing preventing many of us from opting for Child’s Pose – Balasana – in a yoga class is probably the ego….
A classical ‘resting position’, Balasana is composed of the Sanskrit words ‘bala’ meaning ‘child’, and ‘asana’ meaning ‘posture’. It’s the foetal position that depicts the shape and meaning of this posture, but far beyond the external shape, there’s a lot more to ponder over when it comes to the humble Child’s Pose.
The idea of ‘rest’ is almost blasphemous in today’s busy world, and something we may feel shameful about. Resting probably isn’t the first thing you think of doing if you’re a type ‘A’ personality, battling an addiction to exercise, or cramming way too much on your daily to-do list. Resting is something we’re prescribed when we’re ill or injured: mirroring our Western health system, we only tend to do the resting part once the illness or injury actually takes place, rather than preventing it by resting regularly throughout the week.
Resting may conjure up visions of someone lazy or weak, or something that prevents achievements and accomplishments. How many times has someone told you they’re ‘so busy’, only for you to then feel a sense of guilt or jealousy? We could be dragging ourselves through the day, tripping over the bags under our eyes and stopping every hour for a double espresso, but as long as that badge of ‘busy-ness’ remains firmly in place, we’re expected to be happy about it.
Perhaps it’s because of the faster pace of life, the vast amount of times we read of obesity epidemics and how many thousands of steps we should all walk per day. Perhaps it’s the villianising of sitting, the obsession with external appearance, fitness and thin-ness. Perhaps it’s because we listen to all of these external sources that we’re essentially a little scared of resting. It’s quite natural to look for an external source of validation – we do this all the time in the form of wanting affection from loved ones or a ‘well done’ from the person you see as your boss or mentor. This external validation however, has become more and more a part of our lives since we seem to have become surgically attached to social media and smartphones. Likes, clicks, follows and views are the new way we gain validation, and money, social status and material possessions are the things we present in order to show how valid we are in society. This is all on a subtle level, but the more we allow ourselves to be told how much we’re worth, the more we give our own power away.
Courage To Be Vulnerable
We allow the outside world to validate us by looking to others for approval, by waiting for someone else to provide opportunities, by allowing someone else to have a hold upon our emotions, and by spending a huge percentage of energy agonising over how we look compared to others.
All of this looking outwards and away drags our attention further from our true selves, the person who exists beyond the layer of skin and muscle, behind the personality, and far, far from any social media platform. When we spend most of the time looking outwards, we stop noticing what’s happening within – we essentially abandon ourselves. Abandoning ourselves means we stop listening to what the body and mind really need. We stop responding when we need food, social interaction, sunlight, or indeed a rest, we allow the world outside to tell us who we are, rather than getting to know ourselves. We can return to ourselves and look inward again, however – it just takes practice….
Would you ever think of Child’s Pose as something to practise and improve upon? Would you consider it an ‘advanced’ yoga posture? Balasana could be considered so, and maybe even one of the most courageous yoga postures. It requires immense courage to actually pause and listen to what we need. It requires us to seek our own internal validation, it requires courage to cease distracting ourselves from the inner voice. It requires us to be vulnerable, and as author and speaker Brene Brown says “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness”.
Instead of numbing our needs and thoughts with external medicines such as online approval, new clothes, alcohol, food, fitness, or even a stronger yoga posture or more dynamic practice, the real transformation is likely to occur when we pause and listen to ourselves. With the curiosity, humility, vulnerability, honesty and courage of a child, the willingness to listen and not to look for validation, we can allow ourselves to dive deeper into our practice, not when we opt for the stronger posture, but when we dare to rest in Child’s Pose…..